Meet Smoomoo

This is the finished smooth-mover (Smoomoo); a true plank, with length of 80/20 aluminum extrusion bolted with counter-sinked holes (Thanks, Downstairs Clare!), a braking platform that rides in the bar's grooves acts as camera mount. I added incremental tape measures today and glued on a small metal pointer to serve as position marker, highlighted.

The fabulous Dick (Yuji) Kaneshiro generously offered to come over and tell me how to build a camera hand-mover platform like one he'd devised for a film production company recently. He did even better and welcomed talented animators, the Raschs over to learn as well. He told Shel what materials to order and she heroically managed to order, pick up, and deliver it all here for our Sunday Aluminum Party.

Our sweet spokesmodel, Shel, holds up the extrusion for you to see its profile better. Yuji's hands (LOOK! He really exists!) test the bolt sizes before assembly. There was cutting of aluminum and wood, drill pressing in Clare's studio, lunch and assembly of two of these babies. We thank you so much, Dick!

I made this artless, awful, shaky test with it today by plopping the Smoomoo inside the unfinished cottage set and pressing my silverbox camera down on the platform with globs of Funtac®, and shooting frames along the track. It felt perfectly smooth while I was shooting but the results played back look really rocky. Hmmm. I'm sure the unwanted movement was due to my using the soft Funtac® as a base. I'll try it out again with something firmer.

It was father's day, and Justin decided he'd like to come along too and they brought two of their great kids, Nicky, seen sculpting one of his new characters (another good case for DNA carrying talent genes!), and dear little Aedon, who's 7th birthday party would be celebrated later that night back at the Riggity Ranch by her family.

Aedon remembered the woolen needle felting she had done during last summer's visit and she asked to try some more.

FIELD REPORT: Los Angeles Music Center's Toy Theater Festival
Add a 4-star lunch and a walk for fro-yo in Little Tokyo afterward, and you've got what we are still buzzing about as the perfect day's celebration for our 12th Anniversary.

Paul and I dearly love paper, paper puppets, miniature theater, stage craft, live entertainments, etc. So, imagine our delight (Thanks for the tip, Mark!) at there being a massive festival celebrating all of that at the gorgeous Walt Disney Concert Hall (I'd never been inside this landmark before and we got to be on the stage and all over backstage!) It was completely inspiring for my own storytelling and filmmaking ideas.

We went for the whole day and enjoyed every single minute. An easy drive from our place, it was all free to the public due to grants from several arts foundations. There were several theatrical companies, from all over the world, some masters of the art for decades, performing there live before happy crowds of hipsters and families of all sorts. Just to find that we weren't alone in our fascination with these things was stimulation enough!

Pure delights (links have clips and photos) , here's just a sampling of the wonders we saw; The most ambitious production of the day had to be "Once Upon a Time" by Redmoon Theater. Seen in the first two images top left you see a portion of the front of their theater and next to it, the theater's back, the many scenery flats and backdrop pulleys visible after the show. There were four puppeteers/actor/singers who operated all the dozens of foldouts and highly clever puppet tricks to tell there original story spectacle. Upper right shows a marvelous young woman who walked around all day with her theater on her chest and told her story with only a kazoo (perhaps to save her voice). Her show was simple yet ingenious as a real audience watches a paper audience react to a little elephant summoning the strength to jump through a hoop.

Bottom left, shows Monsieur Alain Lecucq giving us a performance of "A Robinson" about how Robinson Crusoe came to live on his desert island and all the adventures he and Friday had there. Middle bottom shows Redmoon in performance. Lower right is the hand of witty artist Laura Heit, a teacher of experimental animation at CalArts. Her show was called "The Matchbox Shows" And was the show I was most excited to see. Her puppets were all made out of matchboxes and depicted a tiny inventive circus whose acts all arrived in matchbox train cars and employed painted matchboxes and matches to create all the suspense and thrills of a world class show. We were charmed. I loved how tiny everything was, how detailed! And how clever her acts were.

We also saw (not pictured) "A Short Entertaining History of Toy Theater" by Great Small Works where live musicians gave us a wonderful explanation of what Toy Theater is and how it came about. "Toy Theater Peony Pavilion" by Chinese Theater Works was Paul's favorite of the day. How they condensed a 22 hour classic Peking Opera down to a 40 minute paper puppet show I'll not know! But it was wonderful! There were six other shows we didn't even see. Hope they'll present the festival again one day. Recommended!


  1. ...!!!...

    Whoah!!! Shelley, that is so AWESOMELY COOL!!!!

    You have a high-tech camera mover!!!! And it looks totally radical!!!

    Now you need to get a Bogan Manfrotto 410 jr. geared tripod head for pans and tilts:

    I did my whip pan test shot only using this little toy.

  2. Yep, I'll be needing one of those big bad boys. Thanks for the up-to-date model recommendation.

    Man, Frotto! 'spensive!

  3. ...Mmmmm Smoomoo, I think I love you...

    That is a great piece of equipment. ...Hmmm... I have a Manfrotto tripod head laying in my back room... Hmmmm...

    The puppet shows look fantastic. I knew you liked paper and puppets, I really should edit up my Easter film with its paper sets and hand made puppets. Seems such a waste having the footage laying around.

  4. Actually, I hadn't seen the link yet... that price is very low. I heard they were over $300 bucks.

    Hey, Rich, you gotta dust that puppy off!

    And I don't know anything about the Easter film of which you speak but I did catch the wild thing reference! hee.

    Show show show!

    Love the latest paper dragon at your site.

  5. It's a spare head actually, I will take a photo for you... but it's manual and un-geared. For stop-mo you probably would want a geared head like the 410.

  6. NICE! I need a smoomoo of my own.

  7. thanks for havin us herself!

    and it was aedons 6th birthday....I dont want her to grow up any faster than she has too....ha!


  8. Hi Ryan! SmmmooooCoooo!

    Justin--that child is only 6?! Whoa. She's so smart! I thought she was way older!

  9. very neat. it sounds like you had a great time (at both events!).

  10. Anonymous12:53 AM

    Ok, it out-smoos my moo!
    But do get the 410Jr (actually the Little Bad Boy, I've just seen one of the big Manfrotto geared heads attached to a 1d MkIII at Adam Elliot's feature production studio). But the little-un is good.

    Great sounding puppetfest! I've been at a festival (Melbourne Int Animation Fest) all week too, soaking up the creativity and spying on my betters. So once again, major developments in the Demi-Terre while I wasn't looking!

  11. Wow, what a great day you had... a toy theatre festival sounds heaven!
    And your new sliding thingamyjig is great too.... as ever, such ingenious work going into halfland...
    & Bravo for your 12th anniversary :) How lovely :)

  12. Thank you, Gretchin!

    Mr. Nick, You gave me a chuckle with the name Demi-Terre! Hee. I like that better than Halfland! It's so Fraunch.

    410Jr IT IS! That'll be my first order coming up.

    PS: I doubt sincerely that you have any "betters".

    Rima! You and I (we four?) would have had a complete BLAST at the festival!! Paul and I were naughty and each ordered three show tickets as each household was limited to three. That way we saw six great shows. It was the most dishonest thing I'd done in years. It felt a bit dirty but WORTH IT!

    If you and I went, we'd probably get into even more trouble! Maybe even going back the second day for the shows we missed! I'd love to see you making friends with all the artists there! Heaven Indeed!

  13. I love your enthusiasm for tools! You look positively WONDERFUL in your anniversary photo! and sounds like a splendid day indeed! Love the wall to wall inspiration post, I'm always collecting reference images too, just not on the scale that you do! Wow! Thank goodness you had a well-fed intern to help you!

  14. Thanks, Ulla! I have to admit to you that that Halfland reference wall is less than half of my image walls. The same sized wall opposite is covered the same way with hundreds of images of art and design!!!

    I have smaller collages for clothing styles I love, beautiful animals, humor, my photography, and jewelry inspiration too.

    um, yeah. I could wallpaper a huge house with these things I need to see all the time.

    Much love.

  15. Anonymous2:37 PM

    "Smoomoo", if it was for sale, I'd but it just because of the name! And it looks cool....:)

    But seriously, great stuff. I'm stuck with wood... Oh and I've added your blog to my link list again, as it wosen't working. I may try using little banners. It would be cool.

  16. Hi Nofby! Really loving how your film is coming along!


  17. Anonymous8:42 AM

    Thanks! I've been scouring around for quite a while now. I thought I would chirp up! :)

  18. love that photo of you two!


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